Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I was a senior in high school.

My 17-year-old mind was filled with college applications, graduation requirements, and auditioning for the winter play. School had only been in session for a month and I was already feeling overwhelmed with responsibility. My main concern was surviving my final year of high school without having a nervous breakdown. Oh, that and finding a prom date.

That morning I sleepily stumbled out of my calculus class and headed straight for psychology. The classroom was eerily empty and the television was on.

I glanced at the screen, curiously, because I noticed mega-anchor Peter Jennings was speaking, which meant breaking news. A few seconds later, I realized it was a plane crash. A few minutes later, after my brain put together the pieces, I realized the truth.

For the first and only time in my life, I was literally paralyzed. I just sat there, staring straight ahead, with tears streaming down my face.

Before I knew it, I watched, live, as the second plane crashed into the second tower. The ABC cameraman started screaming and the camera started shaking, from his shock.

Was this real? I felt like I was watching an action film. But I wasn't.

Students started trickling in the classroom, giving me strange looks for my appearance.

"Why is she crying?" I heard one girl whisper to another.

As they started to watch the television, however, they grew quiet.

For the rest of the day, nothing else mattered. Everyone talked about it. I remember, in a daze, hearing a stupid cheerleader in my English class remark, "It's those fucking Mexicans, isn't it? I knew they were out to get us!"

When I got home, my parents were already in front of the television, watching the images in horror. Planes colliding with glass and steel. Men on fire jumping out of 20-story windows. Peter Jennings interviewing taxi drivers. Family members begging to know about their loved ones at the Pentagon. And what really did happen aboard that plane which crashed in Pennsylvania?

Tucked away in my little Cleveland suburb, I did not know anyone who had been a victim, but I still felt like my world had collapsed. The world had changed, I could feel it. The air felt strange. The sky looked different. Life had grown one shade darker, permanently.

My friend, Erin, came over that evening and we sat on my porch swing. We didn't even talk, we just sat there, each lost in our own silent thoughts.

I realized my life was never going to be safe again. The United States can be touched. Terrorism was no longer international news. It was right here, before our eyes.

And I felt so ashamed that I didn't see it coming. "Who is this terrorist leader? What is that organization? Why am I just hearing about this now? Oh, it's because I'm a stupid teenage girl and I don't watch the news that carefully. But dammit, I know every single fucking thing there is to know about Britney Spears, don't I?"

I will never forget the chills I felt on that crisp September day. I will never forget the way my heart bled when I saw those gruesome images on television. I will never forget how hard I sobbed into my pillow that night when I thought of all the families who lost a loved one that day.

And now, ten years later, without even closing my eyes, I can still feel that cool fall breeze swaying the porch swing, back and forth, as I desperately grasped for an answer to a question I will never understand: why?

Where were you on 9/11?


Miksu said...

I was five ten years ago, once I was watching tv and suddenly they showed extra news, it had something to do with this.

I read about this when I was older and understood something. I was shocked. I didn't get it then and I'm never gonna get it.


A BRIT GREEK said...

Great post hun, I remember this day down to a T, that day has been embedded into my brain and the day of the bombings in London, cos I took 2 trains (tube) before the one I would have gotten on 6mins later got blown to bits. Scary.


jos xx said...

i was 11 years old, at home, switched on the tv to watch some silly show when all i could see was flash news everywhere. I knew nothing about the twin towers or terrorism. my world was just perfect. i could never forget that feeling of sadness and desperation when i saw the buildings on fire and I still cry whenever i see images of people jumping. it's really sad. the world has changed forever.

jos xx

Vix said...

I was 34 years old, working in an office when somebody from the shop floor came in and said, "Vix, where are the twin towers? You're well travelled so we thought you'd be the one to know."
We were transfixed to the radio all day and when I got home I watched the news footage on the TV again and again in disbelief and horror.
We were due to fly to Turkey three days later and people said we were crazy to risk travelling to a Muslim country but we were quite safe and treated with the same respect and dignity we always received when travelling.

Cafe Fashionista said...

It's amazing how, even after all these years, we all seem able to recant exactly what we were doing, and where we were when the tragedy that is September 11th took place. :/ said...

This is really well written, Jennifer. I feel it all as you write about it.

I awoke to a radio announcement about the twin towers. In a haze, I drove to work. There, we were told to go home - school was closed. It's a Jewish preschool, so they closed it for several days for safety reasons.


Belle Armed said...

i still remember that day as if it was yesterday as well.

well written post, dear.

Oh to Be a Muse said...

very nicely written. it gave me such visuals. i was also in school in the middle of my economics class when they put it on the tv. i was also just in NY this past week so i definitely remember this day 10 years ago.

Kavery said...

Was horrifying to see it then and now as well. Hard to understand how they could do it

Bonnie said...

Every time I think about 9/11, I ask myself the same question -- "Why?"
It's horrible and tragic and sad and all things bad and icky.
We will always remember.
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Angie said...

I sat on the sofa with my 5 y/o squirming to be let off my lap. I wished nothing more than to break the speed limit and pick my older child up from school and bring her home to wrap all of us in a cocoon of safety. It's impossible to forget the moment when you realize you and your country are not invincible. It breaks my heart and warms it at the same time when I read things like this that show how deep our ties as Americans are. Bless you.

David L Macaulay said...

this is a great post Jen, as always - it really brings it home. Wow - the cheerleader realy said that about Mexicans...

Mouthwash said...

10 years ago I was 16, and I had just gotten back from a 5 week European tour with my mother.

I was sleeping at my friends house in Kona, Hawaii when the phone rang at 5 am. It was a phone call from France. "Do you know what is happening in your country?!" The voice said? Turn on the television.

I literally crawled on my hands and knees to the tv screen that was on (too tired to walk). It took me 10 mintues to realize I wasn't watching a movie: the same film was on every channel.

Strangely enough, pure panic didn't hit me until the newscaster's broke down into tears on television. That's when it hit me. The home I was at was right next to an airport, and to see no cars, all planes grounded, and no one in stores - no one willing to leave their houses, and to be on an ISLAND, was terrifying.

We will never forget.

Savvy Gal said...

i still remembered so clearly. I was sick that day so I took a day off.

Fashion.MakeUp.LifeStyle said...

I would never forget such horrific and tragic events. I was home sleeping when I heard my roommate screaming and crying watching the news.

<3 Marina